By Nick Shook
Read full post on NFL.com
Minnesota (6-4) snapped its four-game losing skid in exciting fashion, avoiding a late collapse to send the Cardinals (4-5-1) back to Arizona with a losing record after the Vikings triumphed 30-24 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Here’s what we learned:
1. Arizona tried its best to extend it, but mercifully, Minnesota’s losing streak has come to an end. In a role reversal, the Vikings moved the ball efficiently through the air and even found success on the ground. For the first time in weeks, it was evident that Minnesota has some talent at its skill positions when the offensive line isn’t folding in on itself. Adam Thielen was a focal point of a passing game and opened scoring with a fantastic toe-tapping touchdown grab inside the pylon.
2. Minnesota’s secondary bounced back in quite a way. Xavier Rhodes recorded two interceptions, including a 100-yard interception return for touchdown that wiped out a lengthy Arizona drive that had the Cardinals poised to retake the lead in the second. Trae Waynes, who was victimized repeatedly by various quarterback/receiver duos earlier in the season, blanketed whomever he covered. Sometimes it wasn’t enough — see Larry Fitzgerald’s incredible one-handed catch — but often, it forced Palmer to hold onto the ball longer and look elsewhere.
3. The Cardinals need to take a long look in the mirror and realize their strength, which lies in the backfield. Palmer still brings it from time to time, but he’s showing signs of his age (especially when under pressure) and it’s hampering Arizona’s offense. David Johnson broke 100 yards and scored a rushing touchdown, while also catching seven passes for 57 yards and another score, and Andre Ellington made a cameo on five carries for 21 yards, showing the bursts of speed that had Cardinals coaches and fans salivating just two seasons ago. That pairing can be lethal when turned to with volume. It’s hard to come back from a multiple-score deficit on the ground, but a slight shift to the run could have prevented Rhodes’ pick-six, caught on the goal line with Arizona deep in the red zone.
4. Welcome back, Cordarrelle Patterson. Sent to the abyss of the bench for effort issues and struggles with running precise routes, Patterson made the most of his appearances Sunday, catching four passes for 53 yards and taking a kick return 104 yards to the house for a big score. Patterson has long been known as a gazelle with top-flight speed, but a below-average receiver. It’s fun when he gets the ball in space, though, and it’s not too difficult to run a drag route against man coverage, as Patterson did in gaining a decent chunk of yards. He might never be the receiver Minnesota imagined it was getting in the first round out of Tennessee, but when added to a corps that includes Thielen, Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph, he can be a weapon when used in spots correctly.